4 Ways the Culture Misunderstands Spiritual Formation

For much of the late 20th Century and all of the early 21st Century, an increasing number of people have described themselves as “spiritual, but not religious.”Even if that trend left the church at some disadvantage in speaking to the needs of a growing segment of the population, the development was a welcome one. It was also a wake up call to a church that had allowed an important dimension of its experience to slip to the margins of its life.The church’s failure to do that work, howev … [Read more...]

4 Ways the Church Misunderstands Spiritual Formation

The journey into God that transforms us and leads us into deeper connection with God lies at the heart of spiritual formation. Formation creates a space for that encounter to occur, and it nurtures the practice and virtues that makes that journey possible.But it is also widely misunderstood, even by churches.In looking back over decades of attention to the task of formation, here is a brief outline of four models for spiritual formation that are important elements of the experience, but … [Read more...]

The Last Enemy

At my brother’s funeral just over three years ago, the pastor officiating at the service brought us together in the church’s library and laid down the law. “There isn’t going to be any grieving today. We are going to celebrate Dave’ life.”He meant well.But then -- and even now -- I wanted to grab him by the lapels and say, “That’s easy for you to say.” Candidly, I’m sure the unedited, in-the-moment version was far harsher, but let’s leave it at that. I had things to celebrate, but I had a … [Read more...]

The Making of Donald Trump and the Unmaking of a Nation

As Donald Trump steamrolls through the primary season, the question many are asking is, “How could this possibly happen?”The man’s life is a bundle of contradictions. His speeches, while mercifully brief, are also devoid of content, apart from sweeping promises no one could reasonably believe he will fulfill. He is often crude, insulting, and vulgar. Nonetheless, his campaign thrives without spending significant sums of money to make it happen.Some theorize that Trump’s success has to do … [Read more...]

Cancel that Meeting!

Meetings.  They are the mainstay of the modern workplace, both in and outside of the church.But how much do they accomplish and are they worth the opportunity cost in time and talent?After all, our places of employment pay for us to set aside other tasks in order to attend them and they often generate other kinds of work that take us further off task.After years of convening and attending them, I’ve come to the conclusion that we often meet for all of the wrong reasons. One of the wr … [Read more...]

7 Ways to Prepare Spiritually to Vote

The election of a new President comes into sharper focus next week with the primaries.We’ve been polled, encouraged, recruited, and berated.   We have been told that we are better than we are and we’ve been told that we worse than we are.Now it’s time to begin weighing the real-world consequences of our vote.It is also time to consider our spiritual obligations.So, how do we make a decision about voting marked by thoughtful, deliberative, and spiritual preparation?Here are som … [Read more...]

5 Keys to Surviving Spiritually as a Leader in the Church

Over the last three years, my dear friend and colleague, Dr. Mark Fowler has invited me to speak to his leadership class about the spiritual challenges that a leader in the church faces.It is generous of him.  A deeply thoughtful scholar and practitioner, he hardly needs me to remind his class of the spiritual challenges that attend the task of providing leadership for the church.  But I’ve appreciated the invitation and the event has become something of a spiritual exercise for me. … [Read more...]

5 Ways to Age without Getting Old

Sometime ago, a friend who had just celebrated his 84th birthday observed, “You know, when I was young, I thought I knew what being in my eighties would be all about.  But now that I am well into the experience, I realize that I don’t know at all.  Oh, sure, I have aches and pains that I didn’t experience in the past and I move more slowly.  But inside, life feels much as it did in my thirties and forties.”Thanks to his observation, I found myself musing about the experience of aging.  Here a … [Read more...]